Why is it so difficult to enter the Japanese market?


Founder and President of Network in Motion Ltd.

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Japan is the land of opportunities no one is telling you about. With a population of more than 125 million people and is the world 3rd largest economy, as of 2021*1, therefore, Japan has a massive buying power for goods and technologies.

However, every rose has its thorn and Japan is not an easy market to enter. If you wish to enter the Japanese market there are a few challenges you will need to overcome:

1. In Japan, everything is about a “journey” (in Japanese “Dou”).

The Japanese take their time in making business decisions and when you do business with a Japanese company you need to take that into account. You cannot rush the process. Same as the Karate martial arts is called: Karate Dou, which means the “Journey of Empty Handed Warrior” or the Sa Dou, the famous “Tea Ceremony”, which addresses the most detailed decision making from selection of water, the cup shape, the steering of the tea leaves till the drinking angle.

The Japanese plan before they act, they think about all the details and only then will they move forward.

It may seem too long or sometimes even unnecessary in westerns eyes, but this is the Japanese way that helped them survive and succeed for a few millennia and you cannot argue with that.

2. Failure is not an option

Unlike Israelis, who are not afraid of failing (or see failure as a step forward to success) Japanese do not tolerate failure and are highly perfectionists.

When you do business with a Japanese company you will have to bridge this different point of view and remember that there are no “second chances”. Thus, being prepared and having on-going support of an experienced mentor are some of the most important keys for success.

3. Language barrier & the rule of perfection in using English for communication

Doing business can be difficult when you cannot communicate properly with your partner. Japanese are perfectionists and for this reason, they will not feel comfortable communicating in English if they don’t master the langes in a proporate way. Truly the opposite of Israelis who will speak English even in a poor manner.  

For this reason, relying on being able to communicate well with your Japanese counterpart is not the best way of addressing this matter. On the other hand, Japanese like to use mediators they know and trust to help them overcome both  language and cultural barriers.  

When you decide to go into the Japanese medical market, make sure you are aware of at least most of the problems and difficulties you may face.

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